Health and wellbeing still not high enough priority

Research shows that not enough employers are providing health and wellbeing programmes, despite 77% recognising the importance of mental wellbeing

Of the 100 companies surveyed in Vested’s latest Health & Wellbeing survey, 56% reported not having an actively-managed health and wellbeing programme.

Among the 56% without an actively-managed programme, 36% have nothing in place at all, while 20% have started to build their offering but are aware it requires further development.

Employers are more proactive in reviewing their health and wellbeing programmes, with 14% reviewing activities every six months and 47% looking at it once a year.

Despite this, 21% of respondents never examine the effectiveness of the products within their health and wellbeing programmes.

The most common health and wellbeing benefits provided by respondents were cycle to work schemes (13%), employee assistance programmes (13%), private medical insurance (11%), and health screenings (11%). Just 1% offered occupational health.

Nearly half (43%) of the organisations offered three or more benefits to their employees.

When asked what products or interventions employers plan to introduce in the next 12 months, the most common were newsletters (13%), educational seminars (11%), online wellbeing assessments (10%), and health screenings (10%). This shows growth in preventative rather than reactive support, suggested the report.

Employers were also asked whether they thought about providing increased support for mental wellbeing in 2019. Half (51%) said yes, 26% said they haven’t but would consider it, and the remaining 23% said no. The report highlighted that many employers have failed to identify how significant a risk poor mental health is to a business.

Howard Finch, Vested’s managing director, told HR magazine the research highlights that more than half (51%) of respondents have not surveyed staff to discover the areas employees want assistance in.

“This indicates that, rather than finding out from the employees themselves what support they need for their physical and mental wellbeing, employers have historically gone straight to implementation with the hope that employees will like and use them,” said Finch.

Finch continued: “Going forward a different approach is required, whereby employers conduct more research around employees’ specific needs and provide bespoke support that reflects those needs.

This should result in employees getting a more tailored offering that meets their individual needs, and employers receiving a better return on their benefit spend, in the form of improved staff satisfaction and lower absenteeism.”

The survey was undertaken in August 2019. 100 companies participated across a range of sectors, including professional services, construction, healthcare and retail.